Updated February 2016
The greatest incentive for illegal aliens to come to the United States is to find work. If there are no employers willing to hire them, then the flood of illegal aliens will subside. The Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 outlawed hiring illegal alien workers, although common practice has proven that measure ineffective for two reasons:
- The law requires proof that the employer knowingly hired the illegal worker.
- The prevalence of fake documents make it difficult to prove the employer knew that the employee’s work documents were not legitimate.
Historically, immigration law enforcement has been the exclusive province of federal law enforcement, but states are increasingly joining with the federal government in that effort and enacting legislation to punish employers for hiring violations. On January 1, 2008, an employer sanctions law took affect in Arizona. Business owners face the nation's first state law that requires employers to verify the work documents of their new employees. The law says any business that knowingly hires a worker who is in the country illegally will have its business license suspended. For a second offense, the business' license could be revoked. That is different from the federal penalties of fines and possible criminal prosecution that have been infrequently imposed for similar offenses.
The information below is taken from news sources. Each party in the report either confessed or was convicted of knowingly hiring illegal aliens. These cases are listed to illustrate the widespread abuse and increased prosecution of companies employing illegal aliens towards the end of the Bush Administration. Prosecutions that have continued in the Obama Administration are largely the culmination of investigations begun before the change in administration. For a discussion of current policy see Interior Immigration Enforcement — Musical Chairs.
- June 2016 — Ming Fong Cheung pled guilty to employing illegal aliens and tax evasion in State College, Pennsylvania. Cheung operated Asian food restaurants. Previously, eight other Asian food operators were similarly found to employ illegal worker in State College. Cheung could be sentenced to 30 years in prison, but as a result of his plea, is more likely to be sentenced to 18-20 months. (Pennlive.com June 17, 2016)
- February 2016 — A limited liability farming company, HW Group, of Lexington County South Carolina pled guilty to illegally employing more 300-350 illegal aliens over a six year period. The company was fined one million dollars and put on probation for four years. A condition of the plea agreement is that the company enrolls in the E-Verify program. The employment of the illegal workers was proven as the result of the guilty plea in a separate legal action against a person who worked as a form of labor contractor who received weekly lump sums of cash to pay the company's illegal workers. That person was sentenced to probation as a result of cooperating in the prosecution of the company. (The State, consulted Feb. 26, 2016)
- July 2015 — Chinese Immigrant brothers Wen Ping Chen and Wen Qiu Chen pled guilty to employing and harboring illegal alien workers in the restaurants they owned in Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The brothers were put on probation for one year and ordered to forfeit the house in which they had harbored the illegal workers. (The Santa Fe New Mexican, July 2, 2015)
- June 2015 — Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported that Broetje Orchards in Walla Walla (Eastern Washington) agreed to pay a $2.25 million dollar penalty for the continued employment of 950 illegal alien workers. This was said to be one of the largest fines ever to an agricultural employer. In an audit in 2012, Broetje was notified by ICE following a 2012 audit that it had a suspected 1,700 illegal aliens on the payroll. The firm actively lobbied Congress for adoption of an amnesty for illegal aliens so that it would be able to retain its illegal alien agricultural workers. (The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2015)
- April 2015 — Farrukh Baig, who employed at least 50 illegal aliens at his 7-Eleven franchises, was sentenced to seven years in prison in New York. He pled guilty to committing wire fraud and concealing and harboring immigrants. He provided fake Social Security numbers to his employees by stealing them from minors and deceased persons. In addition, Baig also loses franchise rights to his 10 stores in New York and four stores in Virginia, as well as five houses in New York worth $1.3 million and has to pay $2.5 million in restitution for back wages to his workers. Also charged with the fraud were his wife and two brothers.(law360.com, April 27, 2015)
- March 2015 — Munir Ahmad Chaudary, the owner of a hotel in Kansas, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for knowingly hiring illegal aliens. His sentencing followed the sentencing of his wife to 21 months imprisonment. They both had pled guilty to "conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain." Earlier two other management employees of the hotel were also convicted. (Topeka Capital Journal, March 9, 2015)
- February 2014 — The owner of Winterscapes LLC, Stanley Porter, pled guilty to visa fraud and money laundering in connection with getting visas for H-2B temporary workers. His North Carolina operation obtained visas under false pretentions and made the foreign workers available to other firms. He was sentenced to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. (Washington Post, February 20, 2014)
- January 2014 — The owner of Williams Brothers Roofing and Siding Co. in Dayton Ohio pled guilty to conspiracy of recruiting, transporting and using illegal immigrant workers from Mexico, falsifying documents and wire fraud. Gregory Oldiges will get between 24 to 57 months imprisonment and forfeit more than $2 million in cash, a $500,000 house and his pickup. (The Dayton Daily News, January 7, 2014)
- November 2013 — A chain of Phoenix car wash outlets that employed 1.900 persons was investigated over a two-year period and found to be employing illegal aliens with the knowledge of outlet managers. So far 11 of 14 worksite managers have pled guilty. Seven have testified that they were ordered to rehire workers who had been fired after an investigation established that they had used false documents to get the job. (Associated Press, November 18, 2013, and January 13, 2014)
- September 2013 — IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to settle charges that certain of its online job postings preferred foreign workers with temporary work visas over U.S. citizens, the U.S. Department of Justice said. IBM had placed certain online job postings for application and software developers that contained citizenship status preferences for F-1 and H-1B temporary visa holders, the Justice Department said in a notification posted on its website late on Friday. The Justice Department said the job ads violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which states employers may not discriminate on the basis of citizenship status "unless required to comply with law, regulation, executive order or government contract." (Reuters, September 30, 2013)
- September 2013 — Three persons were convicted of hiring illegal aliens to work at a restaurant in Oskaloosa, Iowa and for tax fraud. They were sentenced to two years’ probation and fines of more than $15,000. The three were Ali Bayram, Fikret Bayram, and Ali Sengul. The Bayrams, who also operated a restaurant in Pella, Iowa, were additionally charged with $10,000 fines. (Des Moines Register, September 25, 2013)
- September 2013 — A Chinese immigrant pled guilty in Iowa to knowingly employing illegal aliens at the Hibachi Sushi Buffet restaurant in Waterloo. He faces a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 as well as eventual deportation. (AP September 18, 2013)
- April 2013 — Rama Putra, a Pennsylvania resident, was convicted of operating an illegal alien employment business. He was sentenced to one year in prison and faces deportation upon release. His company, "H&Y Staffing Inc." provided dozens of illegal temporary employees to businesses in the Scranton area. (ICE News Release, April 26, 2013)
- March 2013 — Brothers Hector and Guillermo Fuentes, owners of three restaurants in Waterville, Maine were convicted of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit as well as aiding and abetting document fraud. About 12 illegal aliens were found working in the three restaurants and the owners helped them obtain fake ‘green cards’ and Social Security cards. They face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count and forfeiture of the gross proceeds of the violations. (Morning Sentinel, March 18, 2013)
- December 2012 — PMcCalla Corp., a firm that operates six McDonald's restaurants in Wichita, was fined $400,000 in fines and forfeitures for knowingly employing illegal aliens using fake documents. The investigation found that five of the six managers at the restaurants as well as many other employees were illegal aliens.
- May 2012 — Professional Tree Services Inc., a Houston firm, agreed to pay a $2 million settlement for employing illegal aliens between 2005 and 2011. The investigation began in 2008, and it revealed that about 30 percent of the firm’s workers were illegal aliens. As part of the agreement, the firm has enrolled in the E-Verify program. (Houston Chronicle, May 18, 2012)
- May 2012 — HerbCo International Inc. an organic farming company was fined $1 million for employing illegal alien workers. After an ICE audit found more than 90 workers had false work documents the company fired them. However, the company was found to have rehired many of the same workers off-the-book and paying them in cash. The CEO, Ted Andrews, and two other company officers pled guilty to misdemeanor charges. (Associated Press, May 1, 2012)
- April 2012 — Marino Sandoval and his wife Nicole, owners of the El Balazo chain of taquerias in the Bay Area, were sentenced for employing illegal immigrants and for tax fraud to cover up those workers' wages. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and she was sentenced to five years probation. Between 2007 and 2008 the chain employed more than 100 illegal immigrants. (Contra Cost Times, April 26, 2012).
- April 2012 — Richard Weber, the owner of an Iowa concrete business, pled guilty to lying to an ICE officer when he said that an illegal alien employee had been terminated months previously when in fact he was still working for the company. (Des Moines Register, April 6, 2012)
- March 2012 — Ivan Hardt, owner of Sun Dry Wall & Stucco Inc. of Sierra Vista, Arizona was sentenced to one year of probation in addition to a penalty of $450,000 after he pled guilty in 2011 to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. The case against Hardt and seven other defendants was brought in 2007. Five others besides Hardt have pled guilty. (AP March 29, 2012)
- March 2012 — Samira Zuniga, an Iowa City co-owner of the Xtreme Construction company, was sentenced in Cedar Rapids to 18 months in prison for employing, harboring and transporting an illegal immigrant and one count of conspiracy to transport, harbor, encourage and induce illegal immigrants to live in the United States. Her husband, the other co-owner, an illegal alien from Mexico, fled to Mexico with the couple’s children. (AP March 13, 2012)
- March 2012 — Humberto González, the human resources manager of Howard Industries in Mississippi, pled guilty in 2009 to conspiracy in connection with the hiring of hundreds of unauthorized immigrants at the company’s electrical transformer plant. He was sentenced to six months under house arrest. The company pled guilty to conspiracy on Feb. 24 and was fined $2.5 million. (FoxNews, March 3, 2012)
- January 2012 — Two companies in Houston were each fined $2 million for employing illegal aliens. In neither case were criminal charges filed. Advanced Containment System Inc. was found to have 44 percent of its workforce comprised of illegal alien workers. The other company, Champion Window, agreed to the fine after 269 of its 451 workers were found to be illegal aliens. (Houston Chronicle, January 24, 2012)
- January 2012 — The owner and manager of a San Diego-area car wash pled guilty to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Ju Hea Kim, and business manager, Sun Jae Lee, face sentences of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. (ICE Press Release, January 19, 2012)
- January 2012 — A St. Louis, Mo. Company was fined $150,000 and the forfeiture of a vehicle used to transport illegal aliens for employing 10 illegal aliens. The firm, Industrial Wiping Cloths & Supplies, affiliated with J & J Industrial Supply Inc., pled guilty to knowingly and intentionally employing more than ten illegal aliens. J & J owner Jerry McArthur was found to be transporting illegal aliens when he was stopped for speeding on his return from Kansas City where he had taken five of his illegal alien employees to get Mexican identity documents from the consulate there. McArthur was not charged. (Post Dispatch, January 17, 2012)
Archives of Employer Sanctions: